Boots’ UK retail like-for-likes came in flat in its first quarter as profits slid at its international arm.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), Boots’ parent company, reported that sales at its retail pharmacy international unit in the three months to November 30 edged up 0.5% to US$2.96bn on a constant currency basis. 

Operating profits at its retail pharmacy international arm fell 39.7% to $182m.

At Boots UK, like-for-like retail sales were flat, while like-for-like pharmacy sales fell 0.8%.

WBA said Boots’ December retail performance was “solid”, which it said was a “reflection of actions taken to counter challenging wider market conditions”. 

WBA has been cutting costs at Boots in the UK.

In October a launched a voluntary redundancy scheme as it moves to cut 500 back-office roles.

The high-street giant revealed in June last year it would slash its number of head office and field staff by 700 over three years.

Former Boots boss Simon Roberts told Retail Week at the time the cuts were first announced that it was part of a move to get the business “fit for the future” as it ups its focus on its online offer. 

Roberts unexpectedly left Boots in July after 13 years with the business, but will join Sainsbury’s as its new retail and operations director by next July.

He has been replaced at Boots by Elizabeth Fagan, formerly WBA’s managing director of international retail.

WBA’s group profits fell from $1.11bn to $1.05bn in the quarter. Group sales slid 1.8% to $28.5bn.

Executive vice chairman and chief executive Stefano Pessina said: “Overall we are pleased with the progress this quarter, with results in line with our expectations.”